Changing the world: a job for young people

Around the world, students and young people are at the forefront of efforts to give us all a better future.

Perhaps most prominent are Malala Yousafzai, 17, who won this year’s Nobel Peace prize for campaigning to girls’ rights to education, and actress Emma Watson, 24, who graduated from Brown University this year, and engaged a new generation in feminism with her HeForShe campaign and speech. The evidence is there for all to see on Twitter.

Here are some of the young game-changers in the UK who are helping to make the world a better place in 2014.

Susuana Antubam
Antubam, 22, the NUS national women’s officer, has played a key role in the Good Night Out campaign, which aims to get student unions to train staff to deal with sexual harassment. She graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2013 with a degree in media arts.
“I noticed that in response to sexual harassment, many student unions were rightfully passing zero tolerance policies on their campuses. However, there wasn’t a clear outline of how student union staff should be trained to challenge it and to support students.

“Everyone wants to go out and have a good time, and for those around them to be able to enjoy themselves. We need students to raise awareness about the impact of sexual harassment on their campus experience and to lobby their institutions for structural change.

“The campaign is still new, so we’re working on getting as many institutions signed up as possible. In future, I hope student unions and other institutions will work with local councils to get this pledge and training incorporated as part of licensing for pubs and clubs.”

Ollie Middleton
Middleton, 19, is Labour’s candidate for Bath at next year’s general election and an advocate of young people’s involvement in politics. He is a politics and international relations student at the University of Westminster.
“Living under this government motivated me to get involved in politics. I’d never previously made the connection between feeling strongly about political decisions and engaging in party politics.

“Politics and parliament should be representative – that includes young people and students. The fact that many students are facing £50,000 of debt without a guaranteed job is disgraceful.

“If you want to make a difference, you’ve got to engage in the political system and vote. But we have to make sure we’re equipping young people with enough knowledge and exposure to politics – schools need to play a greater role.

“As a student involved in politics, I try and use my time efficiently. But I maintain a social life – you’ve got to be able to switch off from work now and then.”

Shelly Asquith
Asquith, 24, is a living wage campaigner and student union president at the University of the Arts London, which voted to pay its cleaners and other contracted staff the London living wage earlier this year. She has an art degree from Central Saint Martins and campaigns for free university education.
“I had to drop out when I first came to university – the student loan system went haywire that year. My payments were delayed and without anyone who could tide me over financially I had to get a job and re-apply.

“Realising that privatised education has been built to lock certain people out of education was what motivated me to get politically active.

“Voting is important to make students’ voices heard. With support for Ukip on the rise, we need to make the case for immigration and stand up for international students’ rights.

“But the ballot box isn’t the only form of political engagement. Mobilising in other ways, like using direct action, can also be powerful in forcing change.”

Danni Hitchins
Hitchins, 21, runs Loughborough University’s RAG society, which won the RAG of the year award at last year’s National RAG Awards. It raised £1,411,510 for local and national charities in 2013-14. Hitchins graduated this year with a politics degree.
“We put a lot of hard work into what we do and to have it recognised nationally was rewarding for everyone involved.

“Students should be involved in charity because not only will you raise money for worthwhile causes – you’ll make lifelong friends and experience things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Loughborough students can climb Mount Kilimanjaro, for example.

“The government could be doing more to help student volunteers. Covering their travel costs would be a massive incentive, because train ticket prices can deter them from fundraising. But if you’re short of money, donating time can be just as vital for charities.”

George Burgess
Burgess, 22, is the founder and chief executive of Gojimo, a revision app for students. It’s geared towards GCSE and A-level students and offers some undergraduate content. Burgess went to school in the UK and left Stanford University in 2013 to focus on Gojimo.
“During my A-levels in 2009 I realised there were very few apps for students and none of a particularly high standard. Being a student myself, I thought I could create one that others would find useful.

“I try to inspire students to pursue entrepreneurship by accepting speaking invitations from schools. I share my story and show students that starting a business is possible at any age – I started selling on eBay at 13.

“I encourage them to tweet or email me with questions, so I can help with with specific issues. I’m also part of Founders4Schools, which connects schools with entrepreneurs.

“I want Gojimo to be the world’s number one revision resource. To help us achieve that, we make resources available for free. We’ve just released over 50,000 multiple choice questions for GCSE and A-level revision.”

Arthur Kay
Kay, 23, is the co-founder and chief executive of Bio-bean, a green energy company that recycles waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels that can be used to power buildings and vehicles. The mayor of London appointed him a London Leader and Bio-bean has received funding from companies including Shell and Santander. He graduated from University College London in 2013.
“I came up with the idea while designing a coffee shop and coffee factory during my architecture course, which involved investigating how a building’s waste could be used to power it. My co-founder Benjamin Harriman and I started the company while at university.

“Students increasingly view their jobs as a means to explore their passions, hobbies and philosophies – rather than just as a way to pay the rent. Working in a socially or environmentally oriented business can encourage you to take a more holistic outlook on your career.

“Entrepreneurship needs to be seen as a viable option for the many, not a path reserved for a few. As recent graduates building a technology-focused, green energy company, we’ve been eligible for more support than most.

“In a few years we hope to be processing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coffee grounds and to have saved over one million tonnes of Co2 emissions. We want to introduce the idea of waste as a resource to a wider market.”

Sophie Baumert
Baumert, 23, is the coordinator of the Climate Action Society at the University of Glasgow, which last month became the first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels. The year-long campaign involved over 1,300 students and has paved the way for the demands of students at other universities, including Imperial College London and UCL, to be heard.
“When the decision to divest from fossil fuels was announced, we were over the moon. It was great to see our efforts paying off and that the university had been listening to our moral arguments against profiting from fossil fuel companies.

“Our generation needs to wake up to the fact that our future is tremendously affected by climate change. Young people should act, because people in power won’t – too many of them have ties with the fossil fuel industry and value profits over social and environmental issues.

“Climate change is such a broad issue that it can be easy to get discouraged if you don’t know where to start – but fossil fuel divestment is a tangible goal. Next, we want to look into fracking.”

(Source: TheGuardian)


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